Mathematics is the language of the Universe, transcending words and speech and describing our reality in abstracts and logic. It is the most powerful tool at our disposal, and has been responsible for the rapid advancements, we as human beings have made in the last few centuries. The National Museum of Mathematics, also known as MoMath, is a museum in Manhattan dedicated to exploring the world of mathematics through unique and engaging exhibits for all ages.
These exhibits, workshops, lectures, and more inspire a desire to learn more about mathematics and help educate visitors on the wonders of math. In this blog we will explore MoMath in a little more detail, its exhibits and programs, and how to make the most of your visit.
Getting to MoMath
As with any trip you plan, a visit to the National Museum of Mathematics should be planned in advance. It ensures that the trip goes smoothly and you don’t waste unnecessary time trying to find transportation and struggling with tickets. Getting to the museum isn’t too difficult, owing to its central location, but there are a few things you should keep in mind anyway when planning a visit.
Location and Transportation Options
The National Museum of Mathematics is located at 11 East 26th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. As New York city has a robust public transportation network, getting to MoMath is quite easy. Let’s look at the various means of transport you can take to get to MoMath.
Using the Bus Service: New York City has many buses running on many routes. These buses are an excellent way of getting around the city, and MoMath has four bus stops in very close proximity. These bus stops are:
- M1 to Fifth Avenue/West 26th Street.
- M2 to Madison Avenue/East 27th Street.
- M3 to Fifth Avenue/West 26th Street.
- M23 to East 23rd Street/Broadway.
Other bus lines you could also use are the M5, M6, M7, and X1.
Taking the Subway: New York City is known for its complex subway system; a vast network of hundreds of stations serving millions of New Yorkers and tourists. You can use this affordable subway system to get to MoMath as well. There are several subway stations nearby, including:
- (N, R, W) to 28th Street/Broadway or 23rd Street.
- (6) to 28th Street/Park Avenue South or 23rd Street.
- (F, M) to 23rd Street.
Taking a Cab: New York City is full of yellow cabs. Half the traffic in the city seems to be just a sea of yellow, and thus this is one of the simplest means to get to MoMath. It may, however, cost you more than a bus ride or a subway train. You can also use ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft to get to the museum if that’s your thing.
Biking or Walking: New York City is a very accessible city to pedestrians and cyclists. The city has many bike lanes, allowing you to bike to MoMath if you want to and if you aren’t that far away. And if you’re within a walking distance, you can just take a leisurely stroll enjoying the sights and sounds of New York to get to the museum instead.
Admission and Ticket Information
The National Museum of Mathematics is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day (except Christmas and Thanksgiving day), so you will need to plan accordingly. On the first or second Wednesday of each month, the museum closes early at 2:30 PM to host its free public presentation series by the name of Math Encounters. Make sure to check their website for any upcoming closures before you plan your trip. If you’re going by car, you can book online with MoMath to receive discounted parking in the nearby parking garages as the museum does not have a parking garage of its own.
On days with usual traffic, you can simply present your membership card or the receipt for a newly purchased membership and you can enter the museum. However, sometimes the museum has limited capacity. On these days you will need to book a ticket reservation online and present your membership card upon arrival to gain entry.
MoMath also offers resources to schedule a school or non-school group visit and is now even offering virtual field trips. A standard ticket for an adult costs $25 while children (2-12 years old), students, and seniors (60+ years old) can get a ticket for $20. Students and seniors will need to present ID to avail the cheaper ticket offering. Members can have unlimited free visits to the museum.
The National Museum of Mathematics features a ton of exciting and engaging exhibits that teach about mathematics and its uses. Let’s have a look at some of the most interesting and highly-rated exhibits at the museum.
Wall of Fire: This exhibit lets visitors highlight the cross-sections of various objects by using a plane of laser light to cut through the surfaces of these objects. The results visitors get from this exhibit can turn out to be much more interesting than initial expectations. It features 12,000 laser-cut stainless steel rods, creating a 3D space. The rods change shape and color as visitors move through the space.
Coaster Rollers: In this interactive exhibit focusing on the mathematics of motion, visitors can ride in a small and transparent sled over unusually shaped acorns. Though the acorns are shaped oddly and do not resemble spheres, their constant diameter means you roll over them smoothly as if you were on wheels.
Dynamic Wall: The Dynamic Wall is a moving wall at MoMath. It is handled by computers and can replicate and display wave phenomena, “combinatorial algorithms”, and more. Visitors can experiment with and learn about tessellation, symmetry, and geometric transformations with the Dynamic Wall.
Robot Swarm: The Robot Swarm exhibit is a fun activity, especially for those interested in robotics as well as math. The exhibit features dozens of tiny, glowing robots that run on basic mathematical principles and rules. The robots react to you as well as each other in an attempt to mimic lifelike behavior.
Human Tree: The Human Tree exhibit lets visitors create a virtual tree using their body using motion capture technology. How it works is that successively smaller copies of yourself are displayed, branching off of each other and building a tree on a wall. The participant can then move their body to make the tree sway in response.
Synchronized Spin: Based on John Edmark’s bloom sculpture concept, this exhibit displays a sculpture of many edges and shapes that spins under a strobe light. This process makes the sculpture look like it is an animated object changing and taking various shapes.
Twisted Thruway: This exhibit focuses on the fascinating concepts of a mobius strip and a trefoil knot. It also allows visitors to drive a tiny vehicle across these mind-bending surfaces and see first-hand through a driver’s eye camera how they are constructed.
Seeing Math: The Seeing Math exhibit shows us how math fits in in the world around us. Most examples are of manmade environments, animals, and nature. However, the museum also holds photo competitions encouraging people to submit their own photographs of anything that could be used to showcase mathematics in the wild.
Hands-On Activities for All Ages
MoMath features plenty of activities that encourage or even require visitors to go hands-on with the exhibit and interact with it to learn. This ensures people will better understand the concepts on display, as well as retain that knowledge for a long time. These exhibits are generally aimed towards all ages. Some of the best ones include:
Formula Morph: Formula Morph is a digital exhibit where you can create your own mathematical formulas and then see them transform visual shapes in real-time. This exhibit enhances understanding of mathematical formulas and how they correspond to real life. The altering of parameters is very easy to grasp and execute.
Math Square: One of the most popular activities at MoMath is the Math Square. It is a giant, interactive floor installation featuring a colorful grid that you can step on. This grid features number games, logic puzzles, geometric patterns, and more. These games and puzzles require movement, dancing, and other engaging forms of interaction to solve.
Tracks of Galileo: This activity is all about playing with different configurations to find the best solution. Visitors roll balls down tracks and change around the layout of the tracks to see which layout is the fastest. Tracks of Galileo teaches participants about the principles of motion and kinematics.
Hoop Curves: If you like basketball, you’ll love this one. The Hoop Curves exhibit features basketball hoops and a robot basketball-shooter. You have to use mathematics and statistics to see if you can successfully get the shooter to land a shot.
Enigma Café: Enigma Café is a cozy place to sit down and tackle the many math puzzles on offer. Each table features a unique and fun puzzle that people of all ages can try to crack with or without help. It also serve as a great place to socialize with many puzzles and people nearby to each other.
Unique Features of MoMath
The National Museum of Mathematics is a pioneering institution in the field of mathematics education. It is well-known for its interactive, engaging, hands-on exhibits that foster an environment of inspired learning. What makes MoMath stand out even more is its incorporation of art and play in its activities and exhibits.
The museum isn’t just educational, it is a visual treat to explore. The museum makes use of innovative planning and cutting-edge technology to curate an unforgettable experience that pleases both the mind and the eye. Almost every exhibit is fascinating to look at in addition to being an interesting activity. Visitors are constantly wowed by what they see, and will remember their visit fondly for a long time to come.
Programs and Events
Though MoMath features a wide range of fun and appealing exhibits that attract visitors of all ages. It also hosts programs and events to further promote learning and curiosity for the field of mathematics. Some of the common programs hosted by MoMath include:
Math Encounters: Math Encounters is a public lecture series that has gained popularity amongst math enthusiasts and those who stay up-to-date with whatever MoMath has to offer. Organized by the museum, Math Encounters features presentations on mathematical topics and inspires and informs audiences to take a keen interest in the world of mathematics. Math Encounters often features scientists, mathematicians, and educators in its roster of presenters.
MoMath Online: MoMath also offers a host of online resources, including workshops, webinars, virtual exhibits, virtual field trips, and more. These online programs not only enable people outside New York City to be able to interact with the museum, they also allow for virtual tours when physically visiting the museum may not be possible.
MoMath Masters Tournament: An annual competition organized by the museum, the MoMath Masters Tournament pits participants against each other in a battle of mathematical wits. People of all ages and mathematical backgrounds are able to compete in friendly competition and test their math skills. The tournament also makes for a fun event where people who enjoy math can socialize and have a good time.
Outreach Programs: MoMath partners with schools, educational institutions, and community organizations to promote mathematical interest and literacy in underserved communities. This promotes accessibility to math to a wider audience and ensures a brighter future for the world of mathematics.
Workshops and Educational Opportunities
MoMath offers a variety of workshops meant to allow participants to explore mathematical concepts in a hands-on, engaging, fun, and accessible manner. These inter-field workshops include:
- Math Art Workshops where participants can create mathematical-oriented art using paper, clay, or digital means. This combination of mathematics and art allows for the exploration of patterns, symmetries, and geometric shapes.
- Math Games Workshops where participants employ critical thinking and teamwork to play math-based games and solve mathematical challenges. These workshops feature competitive games as well as group activities centered around geometry, logic, and probability.
- Puzzle Workshops where people use critical thinking and mathematical reasoning to solve math-based challenges and puzzles.
- Coding Workshops where participants learn programming languages with a focus on mathematical applications.
- Specialized Workshops on specific mathematical applications – like geometry, fractals, and number theory – aimed at a particular age group.
MoMath also offers educational programs for schools. These include field trips and workshops and provide mathematical experiences according to a school’s curriculum.
Special Events and Exhibits
MoMath hosts special events every now and then to inspire curiosity and excitement among people. These events can range from themed parties and puzzle competitions to family-oriented festivals. Some of the more common special events and exhibits hosted by MoMath are:
Math Midway: A travelling exhibition bringing the joy of math in the form of interactive and accessible exhibits. It allows people who book it for a venue or institution of their choosing.
Family Fridays: Family Fridays are evening exhibits focused on family bonding over fun mathematical activities, suitable for all ages.
Collaborations and Partnerships: MoMath also collaborates with other organizations or individuals. These partnerships lead to special exhibits and events about different aspects of mathematics.
Tips for Visiting MoMath
Best Times to Visit
As with any visit to a museum, there are certain times when visiting MoMath will probably lead to a more enjoyable experience. For example, if you’re looking to avoid crowds, you’re better off visiting the museum on weekdays if you can while the rest of the city is at work. If you visit earlier in the morning, preferably as soon as the museum opens, you’ll be able to avoid crowds for most of your visit and have many of the exhibits and activities all to yourself.
Alternatively, you can visit late in the afternoon when most people are starting to leave. You might not have as much time as you would have hoped for, but you’ll be able to avoid lines and avoid crowded spaces.
You can also plan a visit during off-peak seasons for a quieter experience. Or, you could plan your visit when the museum is hosting a special event or program. This would mean you’ll be able to experience a unique opportunity to learn about some particular mathematical niche in more detail than usual. It would also mean you can meet with specialists in the field and ask them questions directly.
How to Make the Most of Your Visit
MoMath is a an educational museum, but your experience may not be the best it can be if you don’t go in fully prepared. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your trip to MoMath:
Plan ahead: Check the MoMath website for the day you’re planning to visit and make sure the museum will be open and not busy with another event. Also familiarize yourself with the exhibits on offer. Make a list of the ones that intrigue you the most so you don’t forget to check them out once you’re there.
Arrive Early: As mentioned above, it’s best to arrive as early as possible, ideally just as the museum opens. This way, you can avoid crowds for a portion of your visit and have a lot of the exhibits all to yourself.
Ask questions: The staff at the museum is well-equipped to handle queries thrown their way. Don’t be shy and ask them for anything you don’t understand or would like to know more about.
Participate and engage: Take your time with the exhibits. Fully interact with and understand them. Try out all the different activities and participate in any workshop that may be active at the time. Make this visit the one to remember.
The National Museum of Mathematics can make for a pretty fun trip, even for someone who might not really care for math. The museum’s focus on interactive, artful displays and its fun approach to learning makes it a place anyone can have fun at. Many of the exhibits are just straight up cool to look at, and anyone can appreciate a cool visual.
The museum also carries out the important role of teaching people mathematics, an important skill many skip out on because of its perceived complexity or boring nature. If you’re a resident of New York, or are just touring Manhattan, you should definitely consider visiting MoMath, especially if you have even the slightest interest in math.